Speaking at the inauguration of the Win-Win Monument on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said it cost $12 million to construct and hailed it as a joint achievement by all Cambodians.
The prime minister, in military uniform, spoke at the opening of the memorial on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar peninsula that honours December 29, 1998, as the day Cambodia’s civil war finally came to an end.
The prime minister said most of the money came from the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall, while the rest was donated by Cambodian tycoon Ly Yong Phat.
The government has reserved more money for further construction on the site, he said.
“I would like to confirm for Minister of National Defence Tea Banh that most of the budget we have spent here is from Phnom Penh Municipal Hall."
“At the moment, the budget has already been prepared and the most important thing is how much we have spent … We have already spent $12 million, [but] we have not [factored in] the land."
“We have reserved a budget based on [calculations made by] the construction committee."
“I hope that Oknha Ly Yong Phat, who has already shared some of the cost, will continue to contribute as requested by the construction committee,” he said.
Hun Sen hailed the Win-Win Monument as the joint achievement of all Cambodians. He said the decision to locate it in Chroy Changvar was made because the district is the site of the Morodok Decho National Sports Complex, the centre piece of Cambodia’s hosting of the 2023 Southeast Asian Games, and will soon become a Phnom Penh satellite town.
“This place [the Win-Win Monument] is not mine but it is everyone’s home . . . it belongs to the country. Our students, our youth and [all] Cambodians will be permitted to research, relax, exercise or do whatever they want,” he said.
Regarding the final bill for the monument, Banh said the construction cost did not include the building of future projects on the site, including an underground library, further statues and carvings, and the hosting of events.
“Because the construction of the Win-Win Monument was [accelerated] in order to [make] the official inauguration [on Saturday], the budget calculations have not been reported in detail yet."
“Its construction is supported by three ministries. The construction committee requested further funds from Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Banh said.
The Win-Win Monument, he said, stands in an 8ha plaza, with construction beginning on February 25, 2016. It was designed in a Modernist Khmer style. The base is 117m along each side and features bas-reliefs depicting the journey to peace.
Construction took 29,000sqm of marble, 15,000sqm of concrete and 3,000 tonnes of steel.
The plaza has eight pools and features various sculptures.
Heng Samnang, a 60-year-old teacher who took part in the inauguration ceremony, said the Win-Win Monument would help Cambodians remember the efforts of the government in finding peace and national reconciliation. It would serve as a physical reminder for future generations.
“The Win-Win Monument serves as a good lesson for the next generation. It shows evidence informing all Cambodians that [Hun Sen] helped liberate the country from the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.
“Cambodians still remember the struggle of government leaders who have helped develop the Kingdom as seen today. [Hun Sen] has sacrificed much for Cambodia. The Win-Win Monument represents the struggles to earn peace for the nation,” he said.
The plinth of the monument is a pentagon, said to represent the five strategic points Hun Sen dubbed “DIFID”, which stands for “Divide, Isolate, Finish, Integrate and Develop”.
The upper part is a 33m high triangular monolith representing the three guarantees made to the Khmer Rouge – on life, jobs and property.
Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote on Facebook on Thursday before the inauguration that the monument represented national reconciliation, independence, unity, sovereignty, development and prosperity for Cambodia.